Risk and protective factors

Suicide is a complex human behavior, with no single determining cause. The factors that affect the likelihood of a person attempting or dying by are known as risk or protective factors, depending on whether they raise or lower the likelihood of suicidal behavior.

Major risk factors for suicide include:

  • Prior suicide attempt(s)
  • Mood disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Access to lethal means

Major protective factors include:

  • Effective mental health care
  • Connectedness
  • Problem-solving skills

SOURCE: Suicide Prevention Resource Center, a national technical assistance center that is federally funded under a cooperative agreement with SAMHSA , the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S . Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Download SPRC’s Risk and Protective Factors Resource Sheet

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